Demani Richardson sat on the stage inside of the Waxahachie High Performing Arts Center with a smile that could've lit the room, had the theater lights not of already done so.
The Texas A&M University commit and Waxahachie senior had just received the most prestigious all-American jersey in the country, meaning he has the opportunity take the football field once more to represent Waxahachie on Saturday, Jan. 5 in the 2019 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Richardson is a four-star recruit as assessed by 247Sports. He amassed 72 tackles for the Indians during his sophomore and junior seasons before suffering a knee injury Sept. 20 against DeSoto.
"First, I just want to thank God and all of my teammates for helping me get to where I am today," Richardson said. "And I also want to thank my family and Sophie [Melick], my girlfriend, for always taking care of me and being there for me."
He also encouraged the next class of Indians to continue to work hard.
Waxahachie head football coach Todd Alexander congratulated Richardson on the recognition. He added, " In the short amount of time that I have gotten to coach you, I was always amazed by your athletic and the talent that you've been given, but I was more encouraged by your unselfishness, willingness to work and high character.
"And you showed it throughout the season, even after you were injured. And to the guys who had an opportunity to play alongside him and be a part of this, I want to congratulate you, as well. The All-American Bowl chose a good one."
Selections for the All-American bowl are ultimately made by a committee comprised of 247Sports and All-American Games regional scouts, according to an official press release. Nominations are open to every high-school senior across the country with the top-100 chosen to represent the East and West teams. The nomination forms include areas to list a player's football honors, academic honors, statistics, college offers and a HUDL or film link.
The All-American Games selection process begins with the national combine in January and then carries over to various combines, camps, showcases and clinics during the spring and summer in various U.S. cities.
"From the evaluation process, players are selected and invited to play in the All-American Bowl," the media release states. "The selection committee reserves the right to select players who were not nominated in the spring if they are having an outstanding senior season. All-Americans must be in good standing with their schools and communities in order to be considered for selection."
Staffers for the All-American Bowl then kicked off the jersey presentation ceremonies Oct. 16 with stops at Hun School of Princeton (N.J.) for four-star Penn State commit Caedan Wallace, Auburn High School (Ala.) for four-star Florida commit Mohamoud Diabate, and Brunswick School (Greenwich, Conn.) for Cornelius Johnson, who is the No. 1 overall player in the state of Connecticut.
Richardson received his jersey in front of Waxahachie football and basketball teams one-month-and-change later.
The four players, along with 96 others, will be split into two teams for the All-American Bowl presented by American Family Insurance that airs live on NBC.
Artavius Overton, who is Demani's father, was also awarded the Dream Champion award, for helping to instill the work ethic and dedication required for Richardson to reach all-American status.
Whether or not Richardson will be in shoulder pads and a helmet when the East and West teams take the field at the Alamo Dome is yet to be decided. Even if he does not fully participate, and his final football game as an Indian was, in fact, Sept. 20 in DeSoto, you can bet the farm, last dollar or right arm that he will be there to cheer on his team as the perfect representation of the leader he has become.
After all, we have plenty of Saturdays to look forward too. Gig 'em, Demani.